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Published Jun 23, 2022 12:18 PM

With hundreds of two-person tents on the market, built for everything from car camping to roof tops, mountaineering to ultralight hunting, it can be hard to know where to start. Lucky for you, over the last several months the Outdoor Life gear team has been testing tents built for a number of different categories. We narrowed down the field to following best two-person tents available today: 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Two-Person Tent

Purpose 

Campers can expect to face a variety of conditions depending on the time of year and the part of the country they are exploring, so knowing the extremes of likely conditions is essential for choosing a tent. The tents in this selection are three-season tents, which are appropriate for summer and shoulder-season conditions.

Set-Up

The majority of two-person tents on the market are freestanding, which means that once you snap poles into their grommets, you’ll have a reasonable approximation of what the final structure will look like. Although, in many cases, staking out the tent will noticeably increase your usable floor space. Freestanding tents are a great choice for first-time tent purchasers, as there tends to be less guesswork during the initial set up. Many of the tents in this roundup also use color coding to signal to first-time users how to correctly align the poles, the tent body, and the rainfly.

Weight

Car camping tents, including pop-up tents and the best rooftop tents, are bulky. Even the lightest models weigh upwards of five pounds per person. The best backpacking tents are much lighter and typically weigh less than three pounds per person, with some ultralight (UL) models approaching one pound or less. There is usually a tradeoff with weight savings for durability and price with backpacking tents. Backpackers focused on short trips may prefer a heavier option while those that plan on high-mileage days would do better with a lightweight model. 

Size

A major reason individuals look for a two-person tent is that a one-person tent is typically a tight squeeze for anyone over 5-foot 10 inches—forget about squeezing in your pack and the rest of your gear. It’s not uncommon to see larger individuals opt for two-person, or even three-person, tents to get enough leg room. But there can also be substantial differences in headroom height between different tents. 

Best Overall: NEMO Dagger OSMO 2P

Key Features

  • Weight: 4 pounds, 2 ounces
  • Floor Dimensions: 90 inches x 50 inches
  • Peak Height: 42 inches
  • Number of poles: one
  • A comfortable fit for two people

Why It Made the Cut

The NEMO Dagger delivers on the comfort you want for car camping at a weight that’s light enough to take backpacking.

Pros

  • Large interior square footage and headroom
  • Small packed size
  • Intuitive setup that is storm ready with minimal fussing
  • Optional storage tub provides additional moisture protection for gear stored outside your tent
  • No added PFAS or fire-retardant chemicals

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Recommend purchasing the separate ground sheet

Product Description

You wouldn’t think that an extra square foot or two of space would make such a difference, but the NEMO Dagger OSMO 2P shows that, with a couple thoughtful tweaks and a few extra ounces, you can get car-camping worthy comfort out of a backpacking-ready two-person tent.

The Nemo Dagger Tent
Don’t let the Dagger’s small pack size fool you, this tent has plenty of interior square footage and headroom. Laura Lancaster

Unlike other tents on this list, the NEMO Dagger OSMO 2P was intuitive to set up. I never needed to look at the directions. The symmetrical design means that the single pole, which looks a little strange, poking out in six directions, can be set up in either direction. The Jake’s foot pole end might have been difficult to connect to the corner of the tent body, but a helpful tag at that corner showed me exactly what to do. Another thoughtful detail is the inclusion of a small bathtub floor that clips into the vestibule, so you can protect your backpack (or hiking shoes, if you are car camping) from puddles while stashed outside of your tent on a rainy day. I also appreciated how taut the rainfly pulled during setup, even before I adjusted the tension in the webbing straps.

Jake's foot tent pole.
The Jake’s Foot tent pole end and rainfly clip looked confusing at first, but turned out to be fairly easy to use. Laura Lancaster

Given that the floor of this tent is made out of a relatively thin 30D ripstop nylon (similar to many of our best backpacking sleeping pad picks), I wish NEMO had included the footprint as part of the package. If you plan to regularly camp on anything more substantial than moss, it’s worth adding one (or even two) to your cart at checkout.

Best Car Camping: Coleman Skydome 2-Person Camping Tent

Coleman

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  • Weight: 9 pounds, 10 ounces
  • Floor Dimensions: 84 inches x 60 inches
  • Peak Height: 48 inches
  • Number of poles: three
  • A roomy fit for two people

Why It Made the Cut

The super tall ceiling of this affordably priced Coleman tent is a great choice for first-time car campers.

Pros

  • Tallest ceiling of any two-person tent I’ve tested
  • Low price
  • Heavy-duty bathtub floor excels at keeping puddles at bay

Cons

  • Small vestibule door
  • Fly setup is less straightforward than the tent

Product Description

You’ll inevitably spend a little more time in your tent car camping than backpacking. Lazy early mornings, an outfit change after your afternoon hike, pre-dinner nap—so you want a tent that you, and your camping partner can stretch out in comfortably in. Besides having the most generous square footage of any tent in my test, what set the Coleman Skydome Tent apart from its competition was its height: an impressive four feet. While many two-person tents only have space for one person, the 60 inches of width here mean that not only can you fit yourself and your adventure partner inside (snuggling optional; the tent is wide enough to accommodate a queen-size sleeping pad), but also a four-legged friend.

Tent comparison
The Coleman Skydome 2-Person Camping Tent (center) stood head and shoulders above the Ozark Trail 2-Person Backpacking Tent (left) and NEMO Dagger 2 Tent (right). Laura Lancaster

The drawback of this tent is that it was less intuitive to set up than others in my test—I had to go back to the directions multiple times to figure it out. The two poles, which are connected to the tent body (a boon to anyone who has ever forgotten their poles at home) snapped into place with the end sliding easily into a pouch on the opposite corner and the tabs clicking into place. But when it came time to put on the rainfly, it took some searching to figure out where the pole slid into on the underside of the rainfly. But once it was set up, the trouble was worth it, as this is the best awning I’ve ever seen on a two-person tent—better than a lot of four-person tents.

Despite being a two-person tent, the Coleman Skydome only has one door, which is less than ideal if you are on the wrong side of the tent when nature calls in the middle of the night. Worse, the door is pretty small, limiting the view outside the tent on a buggy day. It also has only one dedicated mesh pocket on the interior for stashing odds and ends like headlamps and glasses, while other tents in our test have as many as three per person.

Best Backpacking: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Big Agnes

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Key Features

  • Weight: 2 pounds, 11 ounces
  • Floor Dimensions: 88 inches x 52 inches with a tapered foot
  • Peak Height: 40 inches
  • Number of poles: two
  • A tight fit for two people

Why It Made the Cut

The Copper Spur is both light enough to impress ultralight thru-hikers and durable enough for first-time backpackers. Dual-door entry makes it easy to share this tent.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Packs down small
  • Fast and easy setup

Cons

  • Tapered foot makes it difficult to sleep in opposite directions

Product Description

This tent has become a mainstay of the lightweight backpacking community for good reason. It perfectly balances low weight with long-term durability and an intuitive setup—two people exhausted by a big day on trail can easily set up this tent in a couple of minutes. I’ve seen backpackers take the Copper Spur everywhere from thru-hikes of the John Muir Trail to casual trips on the Olympic Coast, and it’s performed equally well in all environments.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2
Even after an exhausting day on the trails, two people can setup the Copper Spur in just a matter of minutes. Laura Lancaster

Like many lightweight tents, treating this one with some TLC will extend its lifespan over the long haul—I recommend taking along the five-ounce accompanying ground sheet and choosing tent sites free of branches or burrs that could snag on the rainfly.

This has long been one of the top choices for couples heading out on longer adventures into the backcountry, but some men have found that it’s a bit cozier than they’d like when a friend squeezes in. A longer version of this tent is coming out in 2022 that should make it easier to sleep facing opposite directions, as well as stash bags inside, if necessary.

Best Roof Top Tent: iKamper Skycamp Mini

iKamper

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Key Features

  • Weight: 125 pounds
  • Dimensions: 83 inches x 51 inches
  • Peak Height: 48 inches
  • Number of poles: two
  • Sleeps two people comfortably

Why It Made the Cut

The Skycamp Mini can fit on just about any vehicle, making this a great option for those who are limited by what they drive.

Pros

  • Small enough to fit on just about any vehicle
  • Hardshell case protects the tent
  • Same design as the Skycamp 2.0 and should work great for all season

Cons

  • Smaller means less room and it’s a little snug
  • Priced higher than some similarly sized tents

Product Description

There are a number of advantages to having a rooftop tent over a traditional camping tent. It simplifies setup, which can be a boon to anyone trying to get settled after dark. It maximizes the number of surfaces you can camp on—so long as the ground is level, it should work fine. Finally, it provides protection (or at least peace of mind) against some of the creepy crawlers on the ground.

iKamper wanted to make sure just about anyone could get a roof top tent, and that led to the Skycamp Mini. Modeled after the popular Skycamp 2.0, the Mini weighs 35 pounds less and, at 125 pounds, comes in well below the 150-pound mark a lot of vehicles max out at when it comes to rooftop weight. To showcase this, the company advertises the Mini on top of a MINI Cooper to get their point across. However, this is also a popular option for truck beds as well.

Best Camping Tarp: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultralight Flat Tarp

Hyperlite Mountain Gear

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Key Features

  • Weight: 8.9 ounces
  • Dimensions: 8 feet x 10 feet 
  • Peak Height: variable
  • Number of Poles: 2
  • Sleeps two people comfortably 

Why It Made the Cut
This sub 1-pound tarp uses trekking poles to maximize an interior space that will comfortably fit two people.

Pros

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Extremely packable

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Requires experience to set up correctly

Product Description

Even a lightweight two-person tent can monopolize space in your pack if you aren’t careful. So, if you’re on a quest for a sub 10-pound base weight, it might be time to turn to the world of tarps. The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Flat Tarp , which has fully bonded seams and excellent UV resistance, doesn’t even crack nine ounces (assuming you’ve brought along some trekking poles to help support the interior space). With innumerable setups, there is a variation for just about any three-season condition you anticipate encountering, but the trick is that you’ll need to master the art of the setup to ensure you stay dry, and your shelter stays erect, when conditions start to deteriorate. Still, this camping tarp makes an excellent and lightweight option as one of the best 2-person tents.

Best Budget: Ozark Trail 2-Person Backpacking Tent

Ozark Trail

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Key Features

  • Weight: 7 pounds, 9 ounces
  • Floor Dimensions: 90×54 inches
  • Peak Height: 42 inches
  • Number of poles: three
  • A comfortable fit for two people

Why It Made the Cut

Bargain-basement price combined with basic functionality makes this a serviceable option for fair-weather summer adventures. A great choice if you are looking for a loaner tent.

Pros

  • Extremely low price
  • Durable floor that doesn’t need a groundsheet
  • True two-person tent, including for larger men

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Not built for serious conditions
  • Lack of a bathtub floor could allow moisture to seep in

Product Description

Not all adventures require the same level of preparation. Sometimes the forecast is clear for miles and I’m only going to be camping 30 miles from home anyway—I’m not fussed about having a bomber tent.

Which is good, because this tent is not that—there are some noticeable quality differences between this and our higher-priced recommendations. The stitching of the fly of the floor is considerably thicker and looser, suggesting that this tent may let in some water in the wrong conditions. It also doesn’t wrap up around the sides the way a true bathtub floor does. I’d trust it in a summer PNW drizzle or the fair weather nights of the Southwest. Torrential downpours on the eastern seaboard, or pretty much any day in Colorado’s mercurial mountain ranges? Not so much.

Setting up the Ozark Trail Tent
The Ozark Trail has a reasonably straightforward setup. Laura Lancaster

But there are some pros to the Ozark Trail 2 (beyond that 2-figure price tag). First off, it’s big. It easily fits both my husband and me and our gear without having to stash anything in the vestibule. The floor is quite substantial—no need for a separate tarp to go under it. It’s also a reasonably straightforward set up—newbie campers should try it out on the driveway before taking it out for an overnight, but if you’re at all familiar with car camping tents, this won’t pose any significant challenges.

FAQs

Q: How much do two-person tents cost?

Two-person tents range in cost from less than $50 to upwards of $500, with rooftop tents typically costing upwards of $3,000. These price differences typically reflect the quality of material and construction, and, in the case of backpacking tents, weight differences.

Q: Can a two-person tent fit two people?

Some two-person tents can easily fit two people; others are more of a squeeze. I’ve indicated in the above awards whether a tent is a roomy fit, a comfortable fit, or a tight fit.

Q: How do you waterproof a two-person tent?

Most tents today have already been waterproofed, otherwise known as seam-sealed. But, over time, the seam-sealing on tents can start to wear down, and will need to be replaced. In a well-ventilated room (such as your garage), set up your tent, but place the rainfly on inside out. Then follow the instructions on your seam sealant (Gear Aid is a popular brand), being careful to avoid the zippers, to anywhere there is stitching on your tent, including where the guylines connect to the tent. When you’re done, simply wait 10 to 15 minutes for everything to dry.

Q: How do you clean a two-person tent? 

To clean your two-person tent at the end of your camping season, start by setting it up in a dry, well-ventilated room (such as a garage), and letting it dry overnight. Check the rainfly for any debris that might be stuck to it before packing it away. Next, open the door of your tent body, securing the mesh to the side. Pick up your tent and shake out any debris that is inside. Then, put your tent body away. Finally, inspect your poles and stakes for any debris before packing them into their respective stuff sacks. Store your tent in a dry area to ensure it’s operating in peak condition for next season.

Methodology

I’ve tried, and watched others try, numerous tents over hundreds of nights in nine different states, pitching them on everything from alpine meadows to old-growth forests, long-distance backpacking to casual car camping. I’ve had my fair share of mishaps in tents, from getting flooded out in Southern California to being blown off a sand dune outside of Death Valley, to bringing the wrong poles for my winter tent during a snowshoeing overnight in Olympic National Park.

Our two-person tent picks come from testing the Outdoor Life gear team did for the best backpacking tents, best camping tarps, and best roof top tents. The best overall tent was chosen based on its ability to function well for multiple purposes—first-time users to experienced outdoor enthusiasts, backpacking to overlanding to car camping.

Final Thoughts

There are a wide range of options on the market today for two-person tents. We recommend choosing the best quality tent that your budget allows, as the weight-savings and reliability will pay dividends over the years.

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